Monday, May 12, 2014

April Hints of the Week

April 6th Hint of the Week: Turntable on the Cheap

Thank you to Dennis Allen of Lebanon, Ohio! In Ceramics Arts Daily

While it’s not cast iron with ball bearings, this homemade turntable is easy to make, inexpensive, and works nearly as well. PVC plumbing flanges can be purchased at any hardware store or home center and both flanges can be purchased for about $10. Just match the inner diameter of one to the outer diameter of the other. Cut two pieces of scrap wood; the bottom piece, which will become the base, should be approximately 2 inches larger than the PVC flange and the top piece, which will become the work surface, should be cut to whatever size is appropriate for you working needs. The top piece should not be unreasonably large and not more that a few inches larger than the base. Each board should about 1 inch thick and sealed to handle wet clay. Center and screw each flange onto the wood pieces. Add a little WD-40 for lubrication and you are in business.

April 13th Hint of the Week: Some Glazing & Decorating Stuff from

· Before you begin glazing always be sure to wipe your ceramic piece down with a damp sponge. This will make sure that there is no dust on your piece which could cause the glaze to pull away and leave a bare spot. Dampening helps the bisque to accept the glaze.

· If you are painting on glaze, you must paint on three flowing coats of glaze, being careful of brushstrokes which could show up in unleaded glazes or if you use less than 3 coats. Three coats of glaze will give you a solid color. Adding another glaze for the second and/or third coat will give you some interesting effects. Let each coat dry before adding a second.
Best to brush in opposite direction

· To show textured surfaces better, brush glaze on so it gets in all the cracks, then wipe off the top surface.

· To remove oxide mistakes or for making a design, use a pencil eraser. It won't smear like trying to wash the oxide off.

· When applying oxide over dry glaze, the glaze sucks the water out of your brush making it difficult to paint clean lines. To remedy this, lightly mist the glaze first with water and the oxide will flow smoothly.When glazing a thin piece, glaze the inside then wait for it to dry thoroughly before glazing the outside. Otherwise the clay will become saturated and your piece will either fall apart because it will have absorbed so much water or the glaze won't absorb and stick to the outside. It is best to at least let it dry overnight before glazing the outside.

April 20th Hint of the Week: A few words about Wood Throwing Bats (from Northstar)

We (Northstar) are not able to control the way bats are used nor the environment in which they are used. For these reasons, throwing bats carry absolutely no warranty beyond accurate drilling to accepted factory specifications (not necessarily to your wheel - section 2 and 3 below) and arrival in good condition.

If drilled for standard bat pins, every single bat in this carton was physically checked on a wheelhead supplied by the manufacturer of the wheel for which it is intended. Even such checking does not always guarantee a perfect fit, however, for several reasons:

1. Bat pins are off-the-shelf hardware items. Most American wheels use a 1/4-20 socket cap screw, which you can buy at any hardware store. The head is approximately 3/8” in diameter and industry standards allow quite a bit of variation in the diameter of the head of this screw.

2. Not all wheel manufacturers allow zero tolerance between bat pin holes. There may be several thousandths of an inch (and sometimes much more) variation from wheel to wheel from the same maker.

3. Most wheel manufacturers drill an unthreaded hole in the wheelhead to receive the bat pins, and there is always some (and sometimes a lot of) extra clearance.

If the fit is less than perfect on your wheel try these steps in order:

1. First, try loosening the wing nuts of the bat pins and moving them for a better fit.

2. Next, touch the holes of the bats slightly with a small rat-tail file (available at any hardware store). You may have to file on one side or the other of the holes.

3. Finally, if the holes appear to be located correctly but too small, either use a rat-tail file or try another set of bat pins, which could be a few thousandths smaller.

4. If the holes in the bat have gotten too big and wobbly put some clay on or around the pin.
Care of your bats

The life of all wood-derived bats (such as Masonite and Medex) can be extended by taking reasonable care of them. Always:

1. Clean them after each use.

2. Store and dry bats in a vertical position not horizontal.

3. Avoid keeping bats wet for long periods of time.

4. Avoid leaving wet pottery drying on them for extended periods. This causes the bats to wrap badly at the middle as the outside of the bat is drying and shrinking and the middle is wet longer with clay on it. As soon as pottery can be wired off do so and move the pottery to a ware board, dry wall board, or drying rack.

5. Avoid flexing or bending them when they are wet.

6. Warped bats can usually be flattened by drying them in a stack with weight on them. If you wet them and put them between pieces of drywall or plaster bats, with weight on them, they’ll usually flatten back out too.

7. Reversing them each time you use them (flipping them over) is the single most important thing you can do to extend the life of your bats.

8. Do not use a tools such as a trimming tool to scrap dry clay off your bat as it destroys the surface and leave it rough. Soak the clay to loosen it and then remove clay.

(Some minor edits for clarity by Big Ceramic Store and the Guild)

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